Do you have last minute plans to travel to the most magical place on Earth for spring break this year? Though huge crowds are to be expected, don’t let that dissuade you from adding this marvelous destination to your travel itinerary. From four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) and 24 themed hotels to a bevy of dining, shopping, recreation and entertainment venues, it’s no wonder that the now-39-year-old mecca for Mickey Mouse fans is the largest and most visited recreational resort in the world. Read on for tips to help make your Walt Disney World vacation as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible.
1. Book fast!
With sizable crowds continually pouring into the theme parks over spring break, it’s no surprise many hotels will be at or near full capacity. But don’t despair! If you book now, you can still lock in good rates at some hotels set just minutes from Walt Disney World. Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, located just 1.5 miles from the front gate of Walt Disney World, couples the grandeur of a turn-of-the-century Florida mansion with the modern amenities and deluxe accommodations of a world-renowned luxury hotel. Among its many draws are a 4.5-acre, glass-domed atrium and 20,000-square-foot spa with a salon and fitness center. There’s also the Royal Plaza Hotel at Downtown Disney, where guests enjoy a swimming pool, fitness center, four lighted tennis courts, preferred tee times at all 4 Walt Disney Resort golf courses, and complimentary transportation to all Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks.
2. Plan your day carefully.
Travelers who stay at select Walt Disney World resorts such at the Swan and Dolphin can enjoy Extra Magic Hours. Each day, one of the four Disney theme parks opens an hour early or stays open up to three hours after regular closing, thus allowing guests to enjoy select attractions a bit earlier or later than most theme-park goers. If your property is a non-Disney owned and operated hotel, you can take advantage of the free and ever-popular FASTPASS. All you have to do is insert your park pass into a nearby kiosk and you’ll receive a voucher for a certain time frame – usually an hour or two later – in which you can return, bypass the standby line and get on the ride with little to no wait. (Note: FASTPASS tickets are not given during Extra Magic Hours.)
Not only does this cut hours of waiting time but it buys you time to shop, grab a bite to eat, or even wait in line for a different ride. It’s also convenient for travelers with kids in tow who might otherwise grow restless from having to wait in line for extended periods of time. There are restrictions as to how many FASTPASS tickets you can have at once. Even tickets for popular rides like Splash Mountain and Space Mountain can run out in the afternoon, so you’ll want to snag them early.
3. Consider making lunch and dinner reservations.
After a busy day walking around one or more parks, you’re sure to work up an appetite. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding out that there is a two hour wait to be seated at the restaurant of your choice. Make priority seating reservations by calling 407-WDW-DINE; this will leave you more time to shop, take pictures and enjoy rides. Reservations are free and can be made up to 180 days in advance of your stay. Remember, several vending carts and quite bite locations are sprinkled throughout each park, making it easy to grab a snack while on the go. If you’re not taking snacks with you for the road, it’d be wise to stop by the grocery store to make a few purchases prior to setting off for Orlando.
4. Stay on top of the weather and dress accordingly.
As we all know, Florida weather can be quite erratic. Stay abreast of weather conditions by checking the local forecast each morning and evening, whether via TV or newspaper. Not only will this dictate the best time of day to head for the theme parks, but it’ll help you in choosing weather-appropriate attire. You wouldn’t want to be caught wearing a sweater on a sweltering morning or without a rain poncho on an overcast afternoon.
5. Don’t miss fun Easter events.
Why spend your spring break at Walt Disney World and not join in on the Easter festivities? The Magic Kingdom will be hosting the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade on April 4, 2010. Two parades will be performed March 28-31, 2010 at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Given the large crowds, prime locations for parade viewing will be grabbed quickly, so make sure to pick your spot an hour or more before parade time. If you plan to swing by Epcot with the little ones on Easter Sunday, you can have them take part in an Easter egg hunt (ages 3-9) in the Heritage Garden at the American Adventure. There will be an egg hunt every 30 minutes from 11:40 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Kids ages 6-12 can participate in an Easter egg relay at Future World West Garden, just outside Character Spot in Innoventions West. Relays will be held 40 minutes after the hour from 10:40 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.
A Walt Disney World spring vacation doesn’t have to be hectic and stressful. With a little planning, you can beat the crowds and come away with a truly unforgettable experience. What are you waiting for? Mickey Mouse awaits!